Pier Alsup, senior vice president of marketing at Anheuser-Busch Employees’ Credit Union/American Eagle Federal Credit Union responds to the 2Q 2012 CUSP Theoretical Case Study: Old Brand. New Brand. One Brand? Two Brands?.
Tom, you must address four main areas of importance if you want to promote a successful brand after the merger of Industrial Workers Credit Union and West End Credit Union. These four key issues include: The sponsors or boards of both credit unions, the employees of both credit unions, the members of both credit unions, and the brand and community element.
1. The Core Sponsors And Board of Industrial Workers Credit Union
Communicate with the management of Industrial Workers’ original sponsors. Talk about why the merger is happening and reassure the management that the change will enhance, not detract from, the services and offerings those core SEG members rely on. Reiterate the benefits such as the addition of 10 branch locations, a wider geographic disbursement, new technologies, etc.
Reach an agreement with the IWCU board on what the new board will look like after the merger. Of course, this would have been a part of the merger/acquisition negotiations.
2. The Employees Of IWCU And West End Credit Union
Tom, you and your senior management team must keep the IWCU staff informed and involved throughout the merger process. Employee buy-in is essential.
Form a cross-functional team of key individuals from both credit unions. This group should meet weekly to cover all aspects of the merger, from technology to member communications. Planning is essential.
3. The Members Of IWCU And West End
Again, Tom, you and your team should provide continuous communication to the credit unions’ members about the upcoming merger. In particular, your team should answer the following questions for the members:
What will the merger do for the members of IWCU?
What will the merger do for the members of West End Credit Union?
What can the members expect from the merger?
When will the merger take place?
Tom, because you are concerned about changing the IWCU name, the credit union should invest in qualitative research such as surveys and focus groups to gauge the stakeholder openness to a rebranding. Include current IWCU members in your participant pool. You and your team can then use those qualitative results as one of the components in determining whether to preserve the core sponsor identity or develop a sub-brand.
4. Credit Union Branding And The Community
If you don’t currently have an executive in charge of marketing, Tom, it is essential you invest in professional branding advice. There is a lot on the line as it relates to merging the cultures of IWCU and West End Credit Union, attracting prospective members, and reaching out to the St. Louis communities the new credit union will serve.
Approach this professional branding as an investment that will reap future benefits in the form of productive new members and enhanced brand awareness. Marketing to the community is different from, in fact more challenging than, marketing to a core sponsor. The new credit union will have to work harder on building brand awareness using a variety of methods, including advertising, outreach, sponsorships, and education and community partnerships. Fortunately, you can build on the goodwill and community relationships that are already in place from IWCU and West End Credit Union.
The IWCU and West End Credit Union merger has a number of moving parts, but you and your team can find a fitting brand if you build strategies and tactics around the key stakeholders — the board, the members, the employees, and the sponsors and community.